Monday, December 8, 2008

Wow! What a good movie

I just finished watching the movie In Bruges which I had never heard of. I highly recommend it. A great morality tale from the skewed perspective of the hitman movie.

Linda started watching it with me, but then got drawn away by a call from her sister and they talked for quite a while. By the time she got back to the TV the plot was far too complex to explain so she went off to read. Truth to tell Linda had been skeptical of the movie from the start because she doesn't approve of gangster movies or hitman movies.

To appreciate a hitman movie you have to accept the moral premises of the particular characters, the same way you accept the moral premises of Buggs Bunny and Elmer Fudd if you want to appreciate their interaction. One can't fall into the trap of judging a Charley Partanna any more than one can fall into the trap of judging the Coyote as he lays his traps for the
Roadrunner. Charley is a cook and a devotee of advice columns, and he is a hitman. It's just a job, until he runs into Irene Walker; but even then, a good and loyal worker, he must sublimate his personal feelings.

There has been a recent flowering of the hitman genre. We've had the indeterminate ethnicity wacko Anton Chugurh in No Country For Old Men, although he's in a special category, the functional lunatic hitman. Before that there was the sensitive caring Polish alchoholic hitman who was out in San Francisco to dry out - I can't remember the name of the movie. And there was the Russian undercover operative hitman in that other movie whose name I also can't remember right now. And now we have this In Bruges movie, which is about Irish hitmen laying low in Belgium.

There is, of course a long history of this genre, leading back beyond Charles Bronson in (I think) The Mechanic. What a great ending, Jan Michael Vincent reading Bronson's note on the steering wheel, ". . . if you're reading this it means I didn't make it. Bang! You're dead."

The Godfather, book and movie, is not a hitman story, although it contains memorable sketches of hitmen as only Puzo can do them, especially in the book which has much more scope. Prizzi's Honor, the book now, which was much better and very different from the movie, is a hitman story cleverly masquerading as a mafia story in service to the fact that it's a parody. Shibumi by Trevanian is the ultimate hitman story, but oddly it's never been made into a movie. In it, Trevanian introduces us to what appears an ultimate professional, and then pits that fellow against a character who so overshadows him that we must question our worldview.

A funny recent story about The Godfather reveals how much we've corrupted some of the rest of the family by our constant references to it. On Saturday Sam said Al A had told him to tell me about a gathering planned for A family men at La Fontana. I immediately took fake umbrage saying Al A should have called me rather than him. Sam said, "Well he called me." So I said "I'm your older brother, Sam, I deserve respect." Jas immediately piped up, "Yeah, he deserves respect, he's smart." Rebecca was listening and capped it off by recognizing the source of the exchange.

Of course all too often Sam, Jas and I get to laughing about some reference and everybody else around is looking at us like we're crazy.

No comments: